The Germans called them with great respect the Black Bird Men. Legend has it the Tuskegee pilots never lost an aircraft to enemy during their coverage support missions in Europe. For their bravery air-bomb crews nicknamed them the “Red Tail Angels”.
So on your way to Hilton Head and South Carolina Sea Islands stop in historic Walterboro (exit 53 from interstate I-95) to honor the first African-American pilots in the United States. The Tuskegee Airmen Memorial is part of the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor and is located at the Lowcountry Regional Airport. Here is the Google Map. It’s inspirational, patriotic, has extreme historical significance and it is free to attend.
Interesting facts and things to know before you go
1. US Army Air Corp launched the first African-American pilot training program in 1941 in Tuskegee, Alabama. In August of 1942 the Walterboro Army Airfield base was activated to provide final combat training for the Tuskegee Airmen before they were sent straight into action. .
2. From 1942 untill its closure in 1945, 992 pilots completed the program and over 450 of them saw combat overseas. Among their missions: Rome, Southern France, Central Europe, Tunisia, Japan, China, New Guinea, Western Pacific. Air Combat support was provided from Walterboro for many important defense facilities and cities, such as Santee Cooper Dams, the Parris Island Marine Base, the Navy Yard and Charleston.
3. The base was also the largest camouflage school in the United States. Some 600 acres were used just for bomb storage! At times it housed 6,000 military personnel and hundreds of German POWs.
4. The Tuskegee Airmen trained for 3 months, seven days a week from dawn to dusk.They were sent as replacement pilots for the 332nd Fighter Group, an all black fighter group operating in Europe.
They trained on 3 types of planes the Air Cobra, the Thunderbolt and the Kittyhawk. Flying the nose-heavy Thunderbolt – “The Jug” – was very dangerous and 5 men lost their life during routine training.
5. Go downtown to the Colleton Museum to learn more about the Tuskegee Airmen – including their ongoing struggle against discrimination – see photographs and aircraft replicas and read the news articles from the war time.
This is another free to attend family attraction and definitely worth the time. The museum is housed in the old county jail-house and has great artifacts about the region’s history, culture and lifestyle over the last 3 centuries.
Check this out for more fun things to do with kids in and around Beaufort.
Come experience the rich history and honor the veterans of beautiful South Carolina!
Filed under: Beaufort, Edisto Island State Park, Free Things to Do, Historic Carolina Sites, Inspirational, Museums Tagged: | Beaufort free things to do, Charleston family attractions, cheap Carolina vacation, Historic Carolina Sites, Lowcountry history, Museums, Tuskegee Airmen Memorial, Walterboro